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On The Path: How Kennesaw State’s Amiyah Richardson Learned Creativity In Coding Through CodePath

On The Path is an interview series with CodePath’s student community, highlighting our students’ stories, accomplishments, and journeys to become technologists.

Amiyah Richardson is an alum of CodePath’s Intro to Mobile App Development course, which runs for eight weeks starting in the fall. During the course, students with no prior coding experience are taught the basics behind designing, prototyping, and testing their very own mobile applications.

Students emerge with a well-rounded understanding of how tech teams build software, and new relationships with working tech professionals to help students navigate their journey in tech.

The course is designed for first-year university students and sophomores who are interested in majoring or minoring in computer science (or other forms of computing-related subjects). This course is supplementary to existing coursework, so students should be able to commit to 2 hours of online classes every Saturday during the 8 weeks of the course.

Like all of CodePath’s courses, we have designed them to cater especially well to students who identify as Black, Latinx, Indigenous, or are the first in their family to attend college.

Amiyah is a rising senior at Kennesaw State University. She completed the Intro to Mobile App Development course in the spring and has already filled out her application for the iOS Mobile Development course taking place this upcoming fall.

How did you first become interested in tech and computer science?

I really enjoyed doing Lego robotics in eighth and ninth grade. When we had to do a project before high school about a career or field that you were interested in - I said I liked robotics! So I started looking up technology stuff like women in STEM, and stumbled across software engineering. 

At first I didn’t know what it was but, our school brought in people who taught us how to use block code, and I thought it was so fun to make stuff on the computer. 

I became more and more interested in it, did more research, and eventually said, “I want to code.”

What courses did you take in college and how did you eventually come across CodePath’s Intro to Mobile App Development course?

When I first entered university, I was a biology student because in high school I did this magnet program for medical science and thought I wanted to be a doctor. Then, I realized I hate chemistry *laughs* So I decided I'll do nursing or computer science.

I joined Girls Who Code and got access to resources about places where you can learn how to code. And that’s where I heard about CodePath!

I really liked CodePath's mission, being a nonprofit that helps kids who don't have a lot of money, are first-generation, or are minorities. I really found that to be something that resonated with me, so I joined the Mobile App Development course.

What made you decide on the Intro to Mobile App Development course? Did you have prior coding experience?

Well, I was going to do the iOS Mobile Development course - the intermediate one - but I was nervous that I wouldn’t know what I was doing. Before that, I had only taken a couple of introductory coding classes for my major, which is Information Systems. In the iOS course, they recommend taking the Intro to Mobile App Development first - so, that’s what I did! I definitely think it was the right choice. 

I loved my instructors. It wasn't too fast paced, but it also wasn’t too slow to where it was boring. It was perfect. And I loved making my app and showing my parents and friends, “Look what I did guys, I made a flashcard app!”

What kinds of resources for engineers does your university have? What made you join an extracurricular club like Girls Who Code?

I felt like I had to do so much research about ways to get ahead and be successful in this major because it’s already highly saturated. Everyone wants to do tech, and everyone must know how to code. And I'm a Black woman who is first-gen, and often thought “I don't know anything, and I don't have any connections.” So, I decided I needed to join a club. 

I looked up coding clubs on my school’s club page online, saw Girls Who Code, and started attending their group meetings. They are very interactive, and they have so many resources. Like CodePath, they have a newsletter with a job board, inspirational women, and mentorship opportunities. And that’s how I found out about CodePath!

What were some of your favorite aspects of the course?

It's very accessible. I was in a group with one other person, and we had one mentor. We were able to message him through Slack. We also had a lot of TAs who were incredibly helpful as well. 

If I ever had a question, I could just message them and ask, “How do you do this? Why am I getting this error?” And they will go on Zoom with you right away and help you out.

I really enjoyed how they tell you what to do and give you the resources, but you can go and make your app your own - it doesn’t have to be overly structured. 

At first, I thought all our apps were gonna look the same, but at the end, we were showing them and we all had different ways we designed it. I really liked that. You can put your own spin on it, which motivated me to stay in the course - I could make my flashcard app so cute! 

Other times when I’ve taken coding classes it was awful. The instructor made me want to change my major. I thought, “I hate this. I can’t do this.”

I feel like a teacher really impacts how you learn and the CodePath instructors were just perfect. I loved them.

Did the course show you anything that you didn’t know before about pursuing a career in tech?

I've had my mind set on doing something in tech for a while, but they really opened my eyes to all kinds of things you could do. For example, I didn't know you can be specifically a mobile app developer. I thought you just went to a tech company and they put you somewhere and you were just a software engineer. 

In the course they brought people in to talk about their careers, what they're doing now, their path to how they got to where they are. They were all different! Someone was doing Android development, while this other guy was a software engineer. It inspired me to look up different things in tech.

At my college, people who are in the Information Systems major - some of them do web development but some of them do project management. Sometimes, I feel like I'm set on one thing - like for a long time, I wanted to be a software engineer.  But after taking CodePath, I realized there's so many other things I can do in tech - I don't have to be a software engineer. I can be a mobile app developer, or I can go into UX and UI design if I wanted to.

I love creating stuff, and CodePath really broadened my horizons on all the different paths in tech and that you can do anything in tech - not just software engineering. I found that really cool and motivating. 

Did anything surprise you about the program?

I think one thing that surprised me was myself. I really did not think that I could do it. I didn't think that I was going to make it through. I thought I was going to give up. I thought it was going to be too hard. But I kept pushing through.

For me, there is one thing that gets me really frustrated - debugging my code. Our CodePath instructor told us is if you find yourself getting mad at your code, just step away. So I had to listen to that advice, take a break for a day, and then come back, use Google and figure out why it wasn’t working. 

For Xcode - which is the IDE that we use for making our code for iOS - they have this website where you can search for different errors. For example, let's say my IB outlet wasn't working. I can look it up and they'll tell you different ways to fix it.

I thought I wasn't going to be able to get through it, but with the help of the CodePath community I did!

What’s next for you on your path?

I think I might take an extra semester to graduate, do a job shadow program and  take CodePath’s iOS development class and strengthen my skills.

The plan is to get placed with a good company (in the job shadow program), make a connection with them, and become an intern. I can see myself getting a job at a tech company and just growing and moving up.

One of my big goals is also to become a mentor for Girls Who Code or Built By Girls - or CodePath! They’re all just so inspiring. I want to become a mentor to help other people, give them hope, and tell them they can do it. Something I do for myself - because I have imposter syndrome - is say “You can’t do it. Why are you even trying?” So I would like to inspire others like my mentors and CodePath instructors have inspired me. 

One thing that really keeps me going is the fact that a lot of people in computer science are men. In my computer science classes at college, I was one of the only girls and I often felt unseen which was discouraging.

I want to be someone that people can ask questions to, and I will tell them “You definitely can do it. Don't think that you can't.” 


To learn more and apply for our upcoming Fall 2022 courses, including Mobile App Development, click here.